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Can’t Miss Event | Did You Know? “Chair”adigm Shift | Visionary Status Book Review | Hot 5

Communicating for

Can’t Miss Event!

The Seventh Annual BGSU Teaching and Learning Fair

Presenters at last year’s event The Teaching & Learning Fair is February 15th, from 9-11:30 am in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom. This year’s fair, as in the past, will feature presentations on teaching and learning from more than one hundred BGSU educators. Some of the titles of this year’s presentations will give you a hint of the fun to be had while exploring the latest and greatest ideas about technology, pedagogy, and student engagement: • Here Come the MOOCs! • Texting the History Classroom • It’s the End of the University as We Know It • Can You See Me Now?: Exploring Interactive Tools for Teaching and Learning • What to Do with Dropbox • SignUpGenius • Promoting Student Engagement with Chromebooks • The iBooks Experiment: Replacing the Research Paper with Rich Media Content • I Liked you Better when I Could Pause you Along with these and other fascinating presentations, the members of the CTL learning community that is exploring the use of game mechanics to structure learning in the classroom will be turning the entire fair experience into a game. Fair participants will earn badges for their accomplishments, “like” presentations, pursue new and more challenging quests, and create new strategies for their own classrooms.

This year’s keynote speaker, Terry Doyle, will be sharing the results of years of research into how the brain works to learn new information. His talk is entitled Helping Students Learn in Harmony with Their Brains. See Our “Visionary Status” column on page 3 for more information about Terry and his work. But wait, there’s more! As many of you may know, plans are currently being developed to update the classrooms in Olscamp in preparation for Fall 2013. The new classrooms are being designed as contemporary, flexible, active learning spaces. A representative group of faculty have been meeting with the space designers to draw up preliminary ideas. But now the designers need input from a wider range of faculty, staff, and students. They will have a display at the Fair to invite your feedback about space, furnishings, technology, and other design elements for the new Olscamp Prototype Active Learning Classroom spaces. Please come to see the preliminary ideas and give your feedback! Visit the CTL page for more information about the Teaching & Learning Fair:

Spring 2013: Issue One

2 Did You Know?

A Fabric of Learning Spaces BGSU has recently completed new construction and renovation of residential, dining, and classroom spaces to meet the needs of students. The future likely holds additional renovations. Creativity and innovation researcher Keith Sawyer recently addressed physical space development through his review of a document created by SRG Architects and Jeanne Narum titled “A Fabric of Learning Spaces 2013.” The Fabric of Learning Spaces document is a grid, on which the vertical axis lists desirable 21st-century college student skills and the horizontal axis lists learning spaces intended to foster those skills. Each learning space is then given a grade assessing how the space “values” or supports the designated 21st century skill. The values ratings include marginal, moderate, and rich, depending on how intensely the space supports the skill (and the ratings are visually represented by circles which range from small, indicating a small impact, to large, indicating a large impact). For example, at the intersection of the “traditional classroom” learning space and the “innovation” skill is in a “marginal” value rating represented by a small dot. This indicates that

traditional classrooms do little to enhance innovation. Thus the grid format allows for a visual comparison of 272 different skill/learning space value ratings. The complete list of 21st century skills assessed includes: adaptability, complex communication, non-routine problem solving, self-management, systems thinking, interdisciplinary thinking, collaboration, and innovation. Each of these skills is evaluated as an outcome of 34 different kinds of learning spaces on campuses. A sample of the learning spaces includes traditional classrooms, tiered classrooms, and teambased learning spaces. The core value of the grid is its easy-to-follow assessment of the effectiveness of different learning spaces. The method of presentation of the proposed ratings is also easy to follow, and visually startling. If you are interested in learning more about this document it can be found at http://keithsawyer.wordpress. com/2013/01/22/learning-spaces-and-21st-century-skills/.

“Chair”adigm Shift

When you come to the Teaching and Learning Fair on February 15 (9-11:30 in the BGSU Lenhart Grand Ballroom) you might see a display that has not only the usual poster presentation but also pieces of futuristiclooking furniture. The designers who are working with BGSU in the development of the Olscamp Prototype Active Learning Space will be bringing along some sample furniture for fair participants to try out and evaluate.

As might be expected, movement is an important element in active learning, and the node chair easily wheels from place to place as students move to work with other students and groups. The desk can be used for writing, swung down when not needed, butted up against the desk of another chair to create a larger area for writing or spreading out material, and swung to either side to accommodate right- and left-handed students.

Pictured below is a “node” chair from Steelcase. This handy design has been very popular in active-learning classrooms. One of its best features is apparent in the photograph. Students’ bookbags can be placed in a tray at the bottom of the chair. This may seem a small thing, but in an active classroom where students are likely to be moving around, it eliminates the hazard of tripping over large, heavy, canvas obstacles.

Other furnishings for active learning classroom may include movable tables, “writeable” walls, color-coded chairs for easy assignment to groups (“All the red chairs here; all the green chairs there”) and “huddle boards,” which are small white boards that groups of students can use to jot down their ideas. The small boards can then be displayed in a variety of ways so students can share ideas. So as instructors shift from a teacher- to a learner-centered paradigm, a similar shift is happening in classroom design. If you want to know more about furniture for active learning classrooms, Steelcase has an extremely informative site. Check it out at category/educational/research/ Pages/research.aspx

Spring 2013: Issue One

3 Visionary Status: Terry Doyle

Terry Doyle has been a professor in reading at Ferris State University in Michigan for the past 36 years. But he has taken his interests in teaching and learning outside his content area and into new areas of research. In much of his work, Doyle makes compelling arguments for the significance of applying brain research to teaching and learning. Doyle himself quotes cognitive neuroscientist Janet Zenida who says that if students’ brains are engaged in new learning, their neurons (specifically the dendrites) begin to grow new cellular material, acting as the start of new neuroconnections for new information. In 1998 Doyle started an 11-year journey as the Senior Instructor for Faculty Development and Coordinator of the New to Ferris Faculty Transition Program for the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at Ferris State. During this time he actively worked on his first three books. His first book, New Faculty Transition–An Ideal Program (2004), was co-authored with Henry R. Marcinkiewicz and featured in The Journal of Faculty Development. The authors describe the intensive, yearlong New Faculty Transition Program initiated at Ferris State. Doyle’s next book, Helping Students Learn in a Learner Center Environment: A Guide to Teaching in Higher Education (2008), involves a focus on how to engage students in the transition from teacher- to learner-centered teaching. Many students struggle with this change as years of classroom expectations from kindergarten on make for a difficult adjustment to the level of engagement required in a learnercentered classroom. The book shares approaches to teaching that address how to combat student resistance to learning through such strategies as providing information that is relevant to them and a context for their learning. Doyle emphasizes independent learning and how to motivate students to engage in deep and sustained learning. In his newest book, Learner Centered Teaching: Putting the Research into Practice (2011), Doyle and co-author Todd Zakrajsek, dive deeper into the paradigm of learner-centered teaching and our need to take the focus off the instructor and place it directly on the student. Doyle also addresses strategies to move from where we are now to where we hope to be.

Doyle received his BA in English from the University of Detroit, Aquinas College, and his MA in Reading and Learning Disabilities from the University of Detroit Mercy. Doyle is quickly gaining status as a visionary in teaching and learning as an author and sought-after educational consultant. He has been a featured speaker in over 75 workshops at international as well as local and regional conferences and has worked with faculty at over one hundred colleges and universities across the country, focusing on how faculty can apply new findings in neuroscience, biology, and cognitive science to teaching and learning. Doyle will be the featured keynote at the 2013 Teaching and Learning Fair on Friday, February 15th. His co-author on his newest book, Todd Zakrajsek, was the keynote speaker at BGSUs 2012 Fair. The pair is currently working on a book for college students entitled Learning in Harmony with Your Brain that should be available in 2013. This work will focus on the application of brain research to learnercentered learning. Doyle’s presentations have been described as “excellent, organized, informative, and motivational,” and numerous testimonies thank him for his truly visionary approach to teaching and learning and many even claim his presentations to be among they best they have attended. For more information on Doyle, below are links to his books and his extensive resources: content/0274363471303l45/resourcesecured/?target=fulltext.pdf

Spring 2013: Issue One

4 Book Review Inside the Undergraduate Teaching Experience A frequent criticism of teaching in higher education is that faculty, particularly at research universities, are not usually the best teachers. A stereotypical image of university faculty portrays them as focusing on their research while neglecting their roles as educators: not reflecting on their teaching, and having little connection or engagement with their students. Unless there is pressure from departments or administration, some believe that faculty members tend to get set in their ways and make few changes to their instruction. A very different picture of university faculty emerges in a new book from SUNY Press, Inside the Undergraduate Teaching Experience: The University of Washington’s Growth in Faculty Teaching Study authored by Catharine Hoffman Beyer, Edward Taylor, and Gerald M. Gillmore. The University of Washington’s Growth in Faculty Teaching Study (UW GIFTS) began in 2009. The purpose of the study was to determine how pervasive change was in faculty teaching, what sorts of changes faculty were making, and the reasons why they made them. For this qualitative study, 55 faculty members at the University of Washington were selected from across the disciplines to form the sample. Some of those participating were those recommended by department chairs for exceptional teaching, others were randomly selected, and the rest were selected to round out the demographics of the sample. UW GIFTS was devised as an exploratory study, not to test or validate any theories or support hypotheses on teaching and learning, but to gain an idea of whether or not UW faculty were changing the ways in which they teach and why. The researchers sought to gain answers to these questions through 60- to 90-minute structured interviews with participants. To provide a comparison of university instructors starting out in teaching, a focus group interview of eight UW graduate students who had teaching assistantships was also conducted.

The results of UW GIFTS painted a very different picture from the stereotypical image of university faculty as half-hearted instructors. Key findings of the study showed that most of the courses, even those at the freshmenlevel, were deeply embedded in their academic discipline. Many instructors saw the pairing of course content and critical thinking as vital for meaningful student learning. Importantly, faculty members were making continuous changes to their teaching irrespective of their field or years of experience teaching and regardless of whether or not they were up to date on the latest pedagogy. One faculty member described his approach to teaching like the film Groundhog Day, “I have to keep doing this over and over until I get it right,” (p. 61). The reasons faculty gave for making changes to their courses and altering their teaching were to address the learning needs of each class and helping students meet the faculty members’ expectations for learning. Inside the Undergraduate Teaching Experience provides an in-depth report on the findings of UW GIFTS. A detailed account of the study’s findings is enhanced by a series of detailed graphs and tables, but it is the rich use of interview excerpts that are particularly insightful. This book lets the faculty members speak for themselves, allowing them to share their personal experiences in the classroom and their endeavor to work consistently to help their students achieve. Although the research only looks at teaching at one particular institution, the findings and implications of this study should be of interest throughout the world of higher education and useful for seasoned instructors as well as newcomers to university teaching. Inside the Undergraduate Teaching Experience is now available for loan at the Center for Teaching and Learning’s library.

Spring 2013: Issue One


Hot 5

Active Learning Classroom (ALC) Tips

The Active Learning Classroom (ALC) is a newly renovated teaching and learning space in Hayes Hall. The ALC seats up to 40 students at four round tables, which makes the room optimum for teamwork. Also, the ALC is equipped to display student work from iPads, computers, and other devices on five television displays throughout the room. If you are interested in setting up a consultation in the ALC to see if it meets your instructional needs contact us at ctl@


Consider using technology as “icing on the cake� to an ALC lesson.

While the ALC is equipped to support a range of hightech devices, the set-up of the room is also supportive of technology-free group work. Please consider visiting the ALC for technology-free endeavors as well as technologically enhanced ones.



The CTL staff is prepared to help faculty brainstorm new pedagogical methods that could capitalize on the strengths of the ALC. Consultations could include strategies to teach with tablets, prepare for student-rich dialogue, and use active learning techniques. Consultations can be scheduled by contacting



Consider using the ALC for lessons that are dominated by student group dialogue.

The round tables in the ALC foster student intergroup dialogue. Lessons in the ALC are most fruitful when students are engaged in dialogue with one another.


Take risks.

The ALC is a learning lab for both students and faculty. With that in mind, we hope that faculty who use the space take risks to try out their pedagogical ideas and learn something through the process.

Practice in the space (even if just a little) ahead of time.

The set-up and capabilities of the ALC are different from any other classroom on campus. Stopping in 15 to 20 minutes early to get settled and prepared can help significantly to increase comfort in the space.

Spring 2013: Issue One

Spring Newsletter #1  

Spring Newsletter #1

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